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generally five hundred, and the period required for her to perform so great a labor, is, I believe, about seventy-four hours. The females often die almost immediately after they have laid their eggs, and the males do not long survive them.
The egg of the silk-worm, which is of a whitish, or pale ash color, is not larger than a grain of mustard seed. When eighteen days old the eggs are carefully washed with spring water. The sheet of coarse paper or piece of cloth on which they were laid, and to which they adhere, is very gently drawn through spring water contained in a wooden or earthenware bowl. During the autumnal months the eggs are carefully kept in a cool chamber, the sheets of paper or pieces of cloth being suspended back to back from bamboo rods placed in a horizontal position.
In the tenth month of the Chinese year, which corresponds with our December, the sheets are rolled up, and then deposited in a room which is well swept, and free from all noxious influences. On the third day of the twelfth month the eggs are again washed, and then exposed to the air to dry.
In the spring of the year, the eggs being now ready to bring forth, the sheets are placed on mats, and each mat placed on a bamboo shelf, in a wellswept and well-warmed chamber containing a series of shelves arranged along the walls. The shelves are almost invariably made of bamboo, the wood of which emits no fragrance, aromatic wood being especially avoided as unsuitable for the purpose.
At the time of their birth the worms are black, anú so small as scarcely to exceed a hair in breadth. Owing to their diminutive size, those in charge of
them cut the leaves of the mulberry-tree, on which they are fed, into very small pieces. This is done with very sharp knives, so that the leaves may not be bruised, and consequently retain as much sap as possible.
When the worms are quite young, they are fed not less than forty-eight times in twenty-four hours, In course of time their meals are reduced to thirty in twenty-four hours; and when they have attained to their full growth, they get only three or four in the day. Occasionally-that is, once or twice during the first month-the worms are fed with mulberry leaves well mixed with the flour of green pease, that of black beans, and that of rice. This mixture is supposed to be cooling and cleansing to the worms, and to tend to the production of strong and glossy silk.
Like all other creatures, these insects have their seasons of rest, and to these seasons the Chinese give distinguishing names. The first sleep, which takes place on the fourth or fifth day after birth, is termed the “hair sleep,” and lasts but one day. The second sleep takes place on the eighth or ninth day, and the third, on the fourteenth; the fourth and last sleep, which takes place on or about the twentysecond day, is styled, in consequence of its long duration, the "great sleep." On the near approach of each period the worm loses its appetite. It erects the upper part of its body, and sleeps in this position.
During each period of sleep it casts its skin, continuing in a state of repose until the new skin is fully matured. It relieves itself of the old skin by wriggling out at that part of it which covers
the head, and which is broken. Sometimes the worm dies in consequence of its inability to free the end of its body from the old skin. The skin being shed, the worm grows very quickly in size and strength.
Between the successive periods of rest, there are generally intervals of three or four days, during which these little creatures eat most voraciously. During the four or five days which immediately follow the "great sleep," they have a greater appetite for food than they have hitherto manifested. When they have reached the age of thirty-two days they are full grown, each being about two inches in length, and almost as thick as a man's little finger.
When the worms are gradually increasing in size they are separated periodically, into several lots so as to give them more room. Now that it is full grown, the worm, which before was of a whitish hue, assumes a tint resembling that of amber. At this period they cease to partake of food, and begin to spin the silk from their mouths on the frames or shelves on which they have been placed.
In spinning, they move the head first to one side and then to the other, and continue the operation until the whole body has been enveloped in a Cocoon. The time which a worm requires to accomplish this labor is, I believe, from three to five days; and as soon as it has inclosed itself in the cocoon, it falls into a state of coma, casts its skin, and eventually becomes a chrysalis.
The attendants then place the bamboo shelves
which the cocoons lie, near a slow fire of charcoal or wood, in order that the chrysalids may
be destroyed by its heat, otherwise these would, in three weeks more, break from their prison and appear in the imago form- the last perfected state of insect life.
The chrysalids having been destroyed, the cocoons are removed from the frames and placed in baskets. Women and girls, carefully selected for the task, now unwind the cocoons-a process which they make easy by placing them in boiling water. These workers must be deft of hand, and expert in the business, fully capable of making the threads of equal size, and of producing them bright, clear, and glossy.
When the cocoons are put into boiling water, the outer layer, which is called the silk rind or shell, is first unwound. Another set of women or girls, who are equally expert, are then engaged to unwind the inner layers of the cocoon, called the silk pulp or flesh. In the course of a day one woman can unwind four taels of silk in weight. The most expert workers can not, I believe, turn off more than five or six taels' weight.
Industrious workers, who masters of the business, will finish one season, or silk harvest, in the course of eighteen or nineteen days. Ordinary or second-rate workers will require twenty-four or twenty-five days to get through the same amount of work. From long, white, and shining cocoons a small and good thread of silk is obtained; from those which are large, dull in color, and not firm of texture, a coarse thread is produced. This coarse thread is used in making the stuffs with which dresses are lined. The chrysalids are eaten by the workers as food of an excellent kind.
Biography.- John Henry Gray, the author of this piece, was for many years a resident of China. His work entitled “China” is an accurate description of the customs and industries of the “Celestial Empire.”
Note. Pease is one of the plural forms of pea, and is used when no definite number is mentioned. We say two peas, three peas, etc., when the definite number is given.
Language. – Either the subject or predicate of a simple sentence may be compounded; as “Women and girls now unwind the cocoons.” Women and girls together forming a compound subject.
If we add to the sentence just given and make them into thread, the predicate will also be compound.
Select from the lesson two examples of simple, compound, and complex sentences.
Compose a simple sentence containing a compound subject and a compound predicate.
Nouns and pronouns are of the first person if they represent the speaker; of the second person, if they represent a person or thing spoken to; and of the third person, if they represent a person or thing spoken of.
per pět' û â' ted, caused to last;
preserved. ăn'nals, records. měr' it ed, deserved. as saqlt', attack. dis tiņe'tion, renown.
to pog'ra phy, exact features;
tall, stout soldiers.
Heroic deeds of bravery have been handed down to us by writers of all ages and countries, and nearly every nation has thus perpetuated the name and fame of one or more fearless souls, who, by some marvelous act of courage and fortitude, became famous in the annals of history.
The name of Latour d'Auvergne, a member of a regiment of grenadiers in the army of Napoleon, is one which is regarded by the French nation